All posts by Liberty

Blogging is something I do for myself. I've been blogging since Sept. 2003, mostly about politics, guns, and observations about the word around me.

Questions

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What is it with this rainbow thing? What does it have to do who you have sex with? and why are we calling people gay, The homosexuals get depressed as much if not more than normal people. Who is rewriting the dictionary? And why are people calling me wingnut?

Visitors to the Patio

I had some visitors yesterday, they stopped they drank and dined.  They graciously thanked me when they flitted off. They were humingbirds.

I was sitting out on my patio, listing to traffic on my amateur radio, reading a kindle book, and creating voluminous  clouds of smoke from a fresh Macanudo when I noticed  a hummingbird flitting around the empty feeder hanging on edge of my patio roof. He didn’y hang around long.  The feeder has been empty for months, I had been meaning to fill it, but it was just one of those task I hadn’t gotten around to yet.

Equality and I had some errands to run, so we left the casa did some shopping, and had lunch in Texas City, not a bad way to spend a rainy stormy Sunday morning. When we got home several hours later. I decided to fill the humming bird feeder. This was, after all, a task that I had put off long enough.   I filled the feeder,  sat back in my chair turned up the radioset. and relit the big Mac.  Within 20 minutes I was rewarded with visit to the feeder by a brave little hummer.  I say brave cause after the little fella had drank his fill he came up close to me. Eyeball to eyeball he hovered. Within arms reach. he darted around and took a sip. left for a few minutes and came back and repeated his act. I assume it was the same bird, but I really don’t know. Eventually two birds visited at the same time, and after a while I even had three feeding at once.   Every time they came to feed one of them would do the same thing, up to me, within three feet,  eye level to eye  level look at me and then flyoff.

I don’t know  a lot about birds or humming birds in particular.  But it seems as though there is something going on in their tiny brains. Did they understand that I put up the feeder for their benefit?  Were they trying to thank me?  Make friends?  I don’t know  it just seemed so strange to me.

Hopefully within the next couple of weeks I’ll get some pictures of these guys.

 

An Austin Visit

Austin Bicycles
Rent a Bike

Went to Austin for a couple of days to the National Safety Council Convention and made a visit the State house.  I made a few observations.

  • In Texas a rifle is considered to be safety equipment. A few of the exhibitors were having drawings in which a rifle was the first prize.
  • If you are a CHL holder you will get treated special and allowed to take the short line and avoid the metal detectors when you visit the capitol building.
  • They love their bicycles in Austin.
  • Great entertainment can be had sitting on a bench on 6th street. We had finished dinner and heard a “Temptations” group across the street.  We listened to the concert for about an hour .. Very nice.
  • The blue bonnets were out in force.
  • Yeah, Austin is weird.

Got the Turbo Tax Blues

Turbo Tax has pulled the old bait and Switch. Things that we used to for the past 20 years  such as handling Rental  properties,capital gains and  small business deductions are no longer handled by the Basic or Deluxe versions of Turbo TAX. They have pulled the old Bait and Switch and pissed a lot of people off. Long story short. If you need Forms A B or C you will need to get the $75.  Premier Version. If you make deductions at all Basic version will not work.

The changes require customers to upgrade to more expensive versions if reporting investment, self-employment, or rental income — costing an extra $30 to $40 — and surprising many long-time Turbo customers.

“Imagine their surprise when they get halfway through doing their taxes and there is a roadblock in the program that says you have to upgrade,” added Dworsky.

“It can be viewed as a bait and switch, yes,” Prof. Bryan Menk told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Tuesday, “because people were not accustomed to this limitation in a prior year.”

HR Block is helping fight back, They are offering their software for free, to Turbo Tax Users who got screwed.

The Kansas City-based tax preparer (NYSE: HRB) announced it’s new “Switch to Block” program Monday, which offers its Deluxe + State desktop software free to any taxpayers who purchased Intuit’s TurboTax Basic or Deluxe software for 2014.

The offer from H&R Block comes at a time when TurboTax customers who itemize tax deductions through a Schedule A report will find that TurboTax Basic can no longer help them, so in order to file taxes they have to spend an additional $40 on an upgrade to TurboTax Deluxe. H&R Block’s basic software allows those same filers to use its basic software, which typically costs $19.95, but they can transfer for free right now.

While the offer is tempting I think I’m going to run with TaxACT regardless, we will not be using Turbo Tax anymore

Ordering French Fries.

You Let the world down!
You Let the world down!

Seems as though it was just yesterday that we were boycotting France and ordering “Freedom Fries”,  My question; ” Are Freedom Fries or French fries being served at the White House?”  If I were to guess I would say that there were only French Fries served, and that no one showed up in Paris because there is no leadership.

Not as Bad as It Seems.

As we close out the old year and start the new one, it is a good time to get look at  where we are. Most of us tend to think the world  is pretty bad shape. Maybe it’s not as bad as we perceive.

Maybe Bill Gates explains it Best:

200 years ago 40%of all children died before the age of five. People didn’t have a chance to be literate or to read books, average life spans were less than 40 years. And so in a span of not to much time, even compared to human history, we have made unbelievable progress; the things we take for granted, the abilty to go out and learn things, to have air conditioning, tove clothing, to have a toilet is pretty phenomenal. So anyone who looks at capitalism and what it does and says, “Okay it’s been a net loss versus that life we had before.” I think there is a loss of perspective there.

Yeah, Its all about perspective.

There ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Tribal warfare in Africa, Yet things seem to be getting better, Our wars for the most part less deadly. We watch news eith its 24 hour cycle and we see war and the horrors of war, and the world seems to be comming apart at the seems. But is it as bad as it seems?

Judging the world through headlines is like judging a city by spending a night in A&E – you only see the worst problems. This may have felt like the year of Ebola and Isil but in fact, objectively, 2014 has probably been the best year in history. Take war, for example – our lives now are more peaceful than at any time known to the human species. Archaeologists believe that 15 per cent of early mankind met a violent death, a ratio not even matched by the last two world wars. Since they ended, wars have become rarer and less deadly. More British soldiers died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme than in every post-1945 conflict put together.

We face heathcare upheaval, Ebola killing thousands.  Our food is supposedly loaded with pesticides, herbacides and hormones. Genetically modified is gonna kill all of us who can’t afford to pay 4 times as much for Wholefood groceries.  It’s doom and gloom and we are all gonna die.  Would you believe that we actually aren’t doing that bad?

This helps explain why Bob Geldof’s latest Band Aid single now sounds so cringingly out-of-date. Africans certainly do know it’s Christmas – a Nigerian child is almost twice as likely to mark the occasion by attending church than a British one. The Ebola crisis has led to 7,000 deaths, each one a tragedy. But far more lives have been saved by the progress against malaria, HIV and diarrhoea. The World Bank’s rate of extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 a day) has more than halved since 1990, mainly thanks to China – where economic growth and the assault on poverty are being unwittingly supported by any parent who put a plastic toy under the tree yesterday.

Britons don’t need to look abroad for signs of progress. The Lancet report showed that, since 1990, life expectancy in Western Europe is up by five years – thanks, mainly, to fewer deaths from cancer and heart disease.

The 24 Hour news cycle brings attention to the violent world that we live in.  According to statistics perhaps there is something to entering the golden age of Aquarious.

Homiciderates

To be sure, adding up corpses and comparing the tallies across different times and places can seem callous, as if it minimized the tragedy of the victims in less violent decades and regions. But a quantitative mindset is in fact the morally enlightened one. It treats every human life as having equal value, rather than privileging the people who are closest to us or most photogenic. And it holds out the hope that we might identify the causes of violence and thereby implement the measures that are most likely to reduce it. Let’s examine the major categories in turn.

Homicide. Worldwide, about five to 10 times as many people die in police-blotter homicides as die in wars. And in most of the world, the rate of homicide has been sinking. The Great American Crime Decline of the 1990s, which flattened out at the start of the new century, resumed in 2006, and, defying the conventional wisdom that hard times lead to violence, proceeded right through the recession of 2008 and up to the present.

Happy New Year everyone!!

Demonstration In Brockton

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CAM00493 CAM00492 CAM00491 CAM00489 CAM00488 CAM00485 CAM00483 CAM00482 CAM00481 CAM00480 CAM00479 CAM00478They had a demonstration in my old home town of Brockton Mass. Despite the concerns of some. The demonstration was peaceful, ordely and well coordinated.  BPD was friendly and kept traffic moving.

 

 

 

 

Lighting Up

Obama lighting up.
Obama lighting up.

Its OK to laugh. You know its funny.  I used to have a thing about Cuban cigars. but these days I think the Nicaragan and Dominican are every bit as good and cheaper.

Digital Photography

I keep running into people who want to move up in imaging from their cell phones.  Others can’t understand why anyone would own a camera because a cell phone can do it all.  My response is always the same, “the right tools for the right job”. Yes, it can be useful to take a picture and immediately text or email a photo,  but even the best of phones still can take only mediocre pictures.

In the old days of film we were at the mercy  of the development and print labs.  I had more than one roll of film with a line going across several negatives and prints because some one carelessly dragged something across the delicate emulsion. Today using Photoshop or GIMP today’s user has complete control over the final product.  While GIMP is free Photoshop usage is free after the initial purchase.  While a lot of people never run their pictures through a photoediting program, There aren’t many pictures that can’t use a touchup.  Pixels and diskspace are cheap.  One is better off taking the pictures  at the fullest resolution.  The pixels can always be tossed away later.

Has Hell Frozen Over?

The most leftest newspaper in the country, the Boston Globe has endorsed Republican Charlie Baker over the Democrat party favorite Martha, Coakley?

Effective activist government isn’t built on good intentions. To provide consistently good results, especially for the state’s most vulnerable and troubled residents, agencies need to focus on outcomes, learn from their errors, and preserve and replicate approaches that succeed. Baker, a former health care executive, has made a career of doing just that. During this campaign, he has focused principally on making state government work better. The emphasis is warranted. And in that spirit, the Globe endorses Charlie Baker for governor.

Interestingly the endorsement isn’t about political philosophy, but about leadership and experience skills. We haven’t been following the race all that closely, but this has come as somewhat of a surprise to us.